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[thuhg] /θʌg/
a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.
(sometimes initial capital letter) one of a former group of professional robbers and murderers in India who strangled their victims.
Origin of thug
1800-10; < Hindi thag literally, rogue, cheat
Related forms
[thuhg-uh-ree] /ˈθʌg ə ri/ (Show IPA),
thuggish, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for thug
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was no sign of the thug, but Fats came out of his back office just as Gordon reached the little bar.

    Police Your Planet Lester del Rey
  • About every day I have to send for the sheriff and have some thug arrested.

  • Let any man once taste of that goor, and he will be a thug, though he know all the trades and have all the wealth in the world.

  • Of course it seemed ridiculous that a thug should strangle the old man.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • With a yell, the fifth thug turned and ran for his very life, dodging into a dark alleyway.

    Frank Merriwell's Pursuit Burt L. Standish
British Dictionary definitions for thug


a tough and violent man, esp a criminal
(sometimes capital) (formerly) a member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India who typically strangled their victims
Derived Forms
thuggery, noun
thuggish, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Hindi thag thief, from Sanskrit sthaga scoundrel, from sthagati to conceal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for thug

1810, "member of a gang of murderers and robbers in India who strangled their victims," from Marathi thag, thak "cheat, swindler," Hindi thag, perhaps from Sanskrit sthaga-s "cunning, fraudulent," possibly from sthagayati "(he) covers, conceals," from PIE root *(s)teg- "cover" (see stegosaurus). Transferred sense of "ruffian, cutthroat" first recorded 1839. The more correct Indian name is phanseegur, and the activity was described in English as far back as c.1665. Rigorously prosecuted by the British from 1831, they were driven from existence, but the process extended over the rest of the 19c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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